cats · crafty things · crochet

The Cat Couch Completed!

Panther on the cat couch

I have finished a project (sort of)! And it’s so cute.

Even better, both cats like it and use it! The ‘sort of’ comment is because the first pictures of kitty couches I saw all had little miniature afghans draped over the back, and I thought that was an adorable touch. So I’m working on a small granny square afghan to add. I have never made a granny square before so this is an interesting project. A friend also said I should make tiny doilies for the arms, and I’m deciding if I want to do that too.

Meeko on the Cat Couch
Panther lounging on the cat couch while I’m trying to attach an arm.

I was hopeful that they would like it, because they both sat on it a lot at each stage of it’s creation. Even when it was just a flat piece of crocheting with no foam yet, Meeko would come sit on it.

Meeko on the cat couch when it was still only a cat pillow
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Panther Chemo round 4

Panther lounging after finishing her 4th round of chemo

She is still not a good patient, I’m still needing to give up my lunch break to sit with her because she will tangle herself in her IV line otherwise, but we made it through another round of chemo. Only one more to go. Most importantly, there are no signs of the tumor trying to come back. Look at those perfect, beautiful, tumor-free cheeks (and those kinda high eyes).

I hope I’m not getting cocky in feeling like we’ve done it. Obviously, we are going to complete her treatment anyway to make sure. We surgically removed the mass on her cheek because it had almost tripled in size over about 6 weeks. It was classified as aggressive and fast-growing at the lab. It’s been a little over 3 months now since that surgery and there is nothing there. I am full of hope.

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Panther Chemo: Round 3

Panther after finishing round 3 of her chemo treatments

It was a particularly hectic day at work when Panther was scheduled for her chemo this time. So I had to spend my lunch break administrating her treatment. In case you were wondering, doing a slow drip chemo therapy on your own cat who is an uncooperative patient is not a restful way to spend your break. By the time we got home, we were both pretty run down. But look at that face. Still totally worth it.

We gave her some anti-nausea meds ahead of time to see if that would keep her from loosing her appetite. She stopped eating the day after treatment and I had to give her the appetite stimulant, so I’m not sure it helped. She has continued to eat over the past day despite my no longer giving it. A single dose seems to have done the trick. Obviously we’re keeping an eye on how much she eats.

She has been maybe a bit more snuggly than normal today. The kids even mentioned it. Don’t know if she’s just happy to be home or seeking comfort, but again we’ll keep an eye on things. Here she is happy snoozing on her favorite blanket that we have to keep out all year long despite it being a Christmas blanket (and for dogs even) because of how much joy it brings her. And she brings us so much joy in turn.

Panther having a happy nap and looking very brown in the flash from my camera.

Only 2 treatments left to go thank goodness. It’s rough watching her not feel well, or get angry about her catheter, and there is enough going on in the world right now that sometimes it all seems just way too much. Whoever said life isn’t fair was NOT messing around.

cats · crafty things · crochet

Started a New Crochet Project – the Kitty Couch

This goes against my intent of 2020: the year of finishing, but when I saw it I couldn’t resist. I’ve abandoned my Doctor Who scarf for the moment to work on this, but I’m making great progress. I have the base and side panels done and am working on the piece that will make up the front, back and sides (it wraps over) the seat area. I have also cut out the foam pieces for the seat.

I might have to order more foam for the backrest because the total measurement given in the supplies needed section of the pattern turns out to not add up right to all the pieces you’re asked to cut out at each step. I hope to be able to assemble the smaller pieces I have left together into a workable piece to use to finish the back and arm rests.

If you google ‘cat couch crochet pattern’ you can find all kinds of styles and they are all absolutely adorable. I picked this one (pictured above) because it seemed maybe less complicated without separate couch cushions, it was super cute, and very affordable, so I didn’t feel like I had to think about spending the money too much. Maybe if I had looked into how much foam costs, I might have paused, but I didn’t. And now it’s done.

My progress so far on the kitty couch

Since I already had an almost full skein Red Heart Light Periwinkle I liked, and was confident that I would be able to find more of when I needed it, I started with that right away. Turns out I needed it pretty quickly but I was correct that it wasn’t hard to find and order. I’m almost through the second skein now. I joke that I will spend a month and bunch of money on this project, then my cats will refuse to sit on it. Let’s hope that’s just a joke anyway. They have been lying on the crocheted pieces from time to time, so I hope that’s a good sign. They are still giving a bit of the side eye to the foam.

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Round 2 of Panther Chemo Complete

Panther getting ready for round 2 of chemo

You can tell by those eyes (and the extra bandage) that we had to give her some drugs for her to let us place her IV catheter. Despite her squirms, she did well for the drip, and her treatment went without incident.

We are four days out now, and starting yesterday she lost her appetite. She’s not a huge eater, but she doesn’t ever just – not eat anything. When she was still ignoring meal times today I contacted her doctor who recommended bringing her in for labwork and an appetite stimulant. We won’t see the lab results until tomorrow, but the appetite stimulant really did the trick. She ate a full meal about an hour after administration. Now she’s snoozing.

I hope she’s feeling better tomorrow. It’s so hard to watch her obviously not feeling well, especially since I know she isn’t feeling well as a direct result of our decision to go forward with the chemotherapy. My logical mind can understand that not doing the chemo, and just letting the cancer continue on would eventually make her feel pretty bad too, but now that’s some theoretical idea that would have maybe happened some day in the future. Today, my beautiful girl is sleepy and hiding, and I feel like it’s my fault.

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First round of kitty chemo complete

Happy Panther after finishing her first round of chemo

She did great.

She isn’t a great patient, but with some relaxing drugs, she put up with the IV catheter and the slow drip. Afterward she was back to her cute self and wanting head rubs.

We are a little over a week out from this treatment. Her Dr. advised that there is a chance of a white blood cell drop at 7 to 10 days post treatment and to watch her during this time period. Thankfully, she is completely normal at home. Her appetite, activity and personality are all normal. I only hope that each subsequent treatment is equally gentle on her. I’ve read studies that indicate the longer treatment continues the higher the chances of side affects. So I’m glad we have one treatment down and only 5 to go. And she gets a nice chunk of time between treatments to recover. She doesn’t need to go back for 2 more weeks.

Updates to follow.

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Panther will start chemo

Panther Hartz with signature tongue blep

Panther saw the oncologist a week ago. It’s a rough time to be doing this sort of thing because of the necessity to social distance, but it isn’t as though we have a lot of choice on the timing. Panther went into the office, we did not. We spoke to the doctor over the phone. Her chest x-rays and abdominal ultrasound came out clear so at this point there is no evidence of spread. She went over some treatment options, and this is where doing everything over the phone was less than ideal. It was tough to have much back and forth. She seemed to have trouble hearing us at times and it was a ton of information to take in.

Back at my hospital I talked to her regular doctor, and he called and spoke to the oncologist’s office. The doctor who saw Panther was not there that day, but a different one was able to answer our questions. Then I took that information home and my husband and I came to some decisions.

We are not going to go the radiation route. There are problems with access (the facility is over an hour drive each way and she would need to go every day for awhile) Panther really, really hates the car. The cost is also prohibitive. Since she shows no signs of spread (except maybe a slightly enlarged lymph node near her tumor site) and is in every other way a happy, healthy young cat we considered doing nothing. Watching. Not putting her through treatment that might make her feel sick. In the end though, we are going to go forward with chemotherapy.

Her treatments can be done with me in my hospital with her regular doctor. They only happen once every 3 week for 6 treatments (as long as it goes well, if she has too many side effects or complications, then we stop). We thought this was a good compromise. We know from her histopathology report that we did not get the whole tumor out in surgery, so there are definitely still cancer cells in her. Doing nothing in that circumstance seemed riskier than a treatment that might have some side effects. Her first treatment is on Friday.

If you’ve been through chemo with your cat, (or any pet really), I’d love to hear how it went for you. Any regrets, anything you’d have done differently in retrospect, any advice?

cats

A Problematic Piece of Panther

Panther Hartz says hello.

We adopted Panther in December of 2017. She was a shelter cat who was housed at a PetsMart as they sometimes do. I remember the PetsMart employee who was in charge of the adoption center cried when we were doing the paperwork to adopt Panther. She said when they got kittens, they were usually there under 5 days before finding a home. Panther had been there for 3 weeks. Naturally, in that time she had gotten attached to her, but she assured us the tears were happy tears because Panther was getting a home, and she was such a great cat. I guess it’s true that black cats are harder to get adopted. Crazy, but true.

She is a great cat. We love and adore her.

She started growing a lump in her cheek. It was tiny, maybe a smallish pea size. Her doctor said it was likely a cyst and to just watch it and report if it changed. About a month later it was closer to a gumball size. That sort of rapid growth was concerning and it was time to surgically remove it.

In surgery the doctor could tell it was not a cyst, but he didn’t know what it was so he advised sending it to the lab for analysis so we did. That’s where it is now, waiting for yet a third pathologist to look at it. The first two have some ideas of what it might be, but not with as much certainty as they would like, so it’s going to a more specialized doctor now.

None of the possibilities to the identification of the problematic piece of Panther are good sounding. While we are still waiting for a finial word on the matter it sounding like some kind of cancer, just trying to decide what kind.

Panther is 2 1/2 years old. I know cancer happens even to the young (but it shouldn’t, that’s the most f’ed up thing there is), but it’s so hard to wrap my mind around. She looks great. She’s 11 days post surgery now, her incision is healed great, her coat shines her eyes glow her appetite and playfulness levels are all normal. It doesn’t seem possible something serious could be wrong.

The picture was taken when her lump was still tiny. You might be able to notice a slight bulge-y-ness on her right cheek (left side of the photo). I’m not sure where I’m going with this. It’s just on my mind, and Panther is adorable, so I wanted to share her picture. Send her good thoughts, I guess.

And give your kitties a head rub from me.